Arguing with a Flerf pt. 2

So I pressed the conversation longer than I really should have. But I did discover a number of motivations behind the obstinate adherence to an easily disproved view of the world. It took more conversation, but his motivations did become clearer.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017
The 2017 total solar eclipse as photographed from central Oregon

To no surprise part of the reason is religion. When he began to quote bible verses in support of his claims of a “immovable” Earth one can begin to see where he is starting from.

Our flat, enclosed, immovable earth is absolute proof of a creator. God is real. We don’t have to believe in Him anymore. We can know it to be true.
Flat earth absolutely destroys the atheist/humanist worldview. Just like that.

Adam Asing in a Facebook Comment

If one begins with the belief that the Earth is flat, it is easy to reinforce that idea in this modern internet age. A thriving community of flerfs form one of the clearest examples of an echo chamber to be found on the net, a cult really. Circulating photos and YouTube videos reinforce the worldview, ridicule the “globe heads”, cement a community together in a belief of “true knowledge”.

In our exchanges Adam repeatedly linked quite a few videos, thus I abused my brain watching some of them. They are bad, stunningly bad. In these videos a common thread can be found… A lack of real understanding of how the world works. Here a shallow understanding of geometry and physics is enough to make claims, without seeing the glaring flaws in those same claims.

It is interesting that my day-to-day life puts me in a place where our round world can be seen, seen in ways not visible from sea level. One of the favorite claims made by Adam is that the horizon should be at “eye level”, and it is from near sea level. But when I step outside at the telescope you can easily see it is not. Adam repeatedly challenged me to take a photo from the summit that shows the horizon.

With a camera held to my face to six feet above the deck one can see that the horizon is well below eye-level, exactly what one would expect on the top of Mauna Kea.
With a camera held to my face to six feet above the deck one can see that the horizon is well below eye-level, exactly what one would expect on the top of Mauna Kea.

I would love to just grab one of the transits and measure that angle, how far below eye-level the horizon actually is. Alas, the weather has been quite cloudy the last couple weeks. Thus I just scrounged through my archive and pulled up a photo that showed the horizon level quite clearly. I even did the math, comparing the camera field of view to the image to calculate how far the horizon was lower than horizontal, about 2.5 degrees, exactly what one would expect from 13,700ft elevation.

What does Mr. Asing think of this little experiment? He accused me of lying. My response? Go do it yourself, just drive up the mauna and take a photo for yourself. Despite claiming many times that he is open to the evidence, that he is a scientist, he simply responds with a flurry of links to more bad videos.

Having satisfied myself I end my exploration into the mind of a fanatic. It is truly interesting how far one can invest themselves into a conspiracy theory, how one can ignore any evidence to the contrary and retreat into the echo chamber. We see this all around us, more clearly as these communities thrive in an age of instant communications and online communities. The public nature of online services like Facebook make it easy to explore these phenomena. Unfortunately what you find is rather disheartening.

In arguing with me you have a problem… I do not rely on other’s information to know that the Earth is a globe. I see for myself. I see a complete system that works without contradictions. I am out with a telescope watching the stars rise and set a couple times a month.

I have spent weeks piloting a vessel for a couple thousand miles watching islands rise over the horizon as I near. I have done the calculations to plot orbits, and find the correct answer. I have done the calculations to find my latitude and longitude with a sextant, not from tables, but from scratch using the raw math.

I have traveled to many places in the world and see the sky I know so well change with latitude exactly as expected, the angles and what is visible right where expected.

I know the equations used to aim the great telescopes on the mauna, equations based on spherical trig. I have the passwords for the computers, I can read the code. I press the mouse and 370 tons points at the correct target to within milli-arceconds. I see the image in a camera system I connected and know well. No CGI, no lies, I see for myself.

I do not rely on YouTube video’s or textbooks… I know. I know from my own observations. I know in a hundred ways that you do not even seem to understand… The math… The motions… The positions of objects in the sky. All the data is complete with one answer.

Why is there a horizon? Why do things disappear over it as they move away? Why is there a sunset or moonrise? Why is the horizon lower than “eye-level” at the top of Mauna Kea? Why does the altitude of Polaris match your latitude? If the Sun is close why does it not change size through the day? How can there be a lunar eclipse like we see? I can write a hundred of these, and have asked many more in the course of our conversations.

From you I get really bad videos and photos that show nothing, that are easily seen to be false. I show you an accurate photo and you accuse me of lying. You have not raised one good answer to my many questions… You have simply failed to make your point. At the same time you avoid so many of my questions. You refuse to go out and make a simple measurement for yourself when challenged to do the experiment.

You have failed to prove a single point rather spectacularly.

I am done here.

Facebook Comment by Andrew Cooper

How did he respond to that? Another flurry of bad YouTube video’s featuring cherry picked and out of context quotes from scientists.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

One thought on “Arguing with a Flerf pt. 2”

  1. Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

    – Mark Twain

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